We have previously written an article detailing our submission guidelines and things you need to do for any given article, now is the turn of podcasting.
First and foremost, kit. Podcasting microphones are all you need as most of our recordings are done online (more on that later), so all you will need is a USB microphone. There are other types of microphones, but they require you to buy more kit – such mixing desks and more complicated devices that give you phantom power but none of that today, this is a beginners guide. So, yes, USB microphones. We realise that you are starting out, so we wouldn’t want to spend too much money especially when you can spend hundreds upon hundreds of pounds (dollars, etc) getting that perfect set-up.
Below are links to few microphones we recommend. These links do click through to Amazon but they aren’t affiliate links, so buy on amazon if you want – or buy somewhere else, wherever works best.
- Blue Nessie (my personal microphone)
- Blue Snowball (a perfect entry point, many of our hosts use them and this was my first podcasting microphone)
- Blue Yeti (blue microphones are generally a great way into podcasting and home recording)
- Thronmax MDRILL One
- SAMSON Sagomic Go Mic Clip-On USB Microphone
If you are thinking “I’m not paying that for a microphone, I’ve got one built into my laptop – that’ll do“. I speak for the entire wider podcasting community by saying that just isn’t true. Call it one of the fallacies of podcasting, if you will. The linked mic’s above will give you a strong audio quality, a laptop microphone is weak, shallow, echoey, without bass, without presence. Basically, a laptop microphone is meat that even a dog wouldn’t touch. Invest in one of the above, they are also others but whatever you do – research any potential microphone purchase thoroughly.
You can also use headsets, but personally I wouldn’t recommend one as to get to the sort of quality you expect from a podcast or similar audio recording – you’d have to lay down a lot of cash. You can also buy a mixing desk, XLR powered mics and more specific setups, however, that gets much more complicated with concepts like Phantom Power, Omni Directional or directional microphones and much, much more and all of it is more than a beginner set up requires. So in your first podcasting steps, a USB microphone will more than do the job.
WHERE SHOULD I RECORD?
Acoustics are vital to your microphone capturing and recording healthy sounds. You could book a recording booth, but the regularity of periodic content would make the budget needed for such a thing monstrous. Instead, there are a few options. You can record it out and about, however, strict observance needs to be paid to ambient sounds of the area you are in. Is it windy? Then that place is a no go without investing in tech and accessories to accommodate that sound. A lot of background noise, like people talking, again, not ideal. A slight hubbub in the background is workable, but ideally you want a quiet, homely coffee shop ambience at the absolute most. Ideally, record at home and do it in a small room or if you don’t have any small rooms you could use – a corner of a bigger room. Acoustically, the results will be best if you find that nice corner.
WHAT SOFTWARE DO I NEED?
To talk to your fellow co-hosts over the internet, you can use Skype – although we wouldn’t recommend it as the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Better options are Google Meet and Zencastr. People do use Discord, but it wouldn’t be recommended as a starting point or without a dedicated producer.
For recording and editing, there are two immediate and accessible options. The paid option is Adobe Audition, which is only really available as part of the overpriced adobe creative cloud package. Or, Audacity which is open source – so free – and if you are clever with the plugins you use it can become a very powerful piece of software.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW FOR AUDIO EDITING?
Open audacity, click on file > import, and when the file has finished loading – this is what a podcast audio file will look like. Pretty intimidating, right? just looks like an indecipherable wave file, doesn’t it?
While true, that is only because you aren’t zoomed in properly. Click the button near where the black arrow is until you can see it as much as you find comfortable. As so:
Much better. Now, click on the purple rewind button and it’ll take you to the beginning of the recording. At that point, press play and get ready to do some editing.
What exactly are you editing? People think they talk rather smoothly but it is only when you hear it back in raw unedited form do you hear all the little foibles of your speaking pattern. Is there a lot of repeated phrases and words? Clean them up. Lots of long Umms? Yes, probably, so much so, I personally can identify their exact wave file shape from sight alone. If there are too many of them, get rid of some, not all. If you get rid of them all, it sounds over-produced. Coughs, lip smacks, clicking tongues? Get rid of all them.
Once you have found an offending article, how do you get rid of it? Well… :
Click on the selection tool, it’ll usually be selected by default – but just make sure it is selected (highlighted in the image above with black arrow). Once the offending article has been selected, stop the recording highlight the right area and press the delete button. Always press play once you have selected some part of the recording to make sure you have the right thing. Once sure, delete away. However, rewind a little bit to make sure that by removing something it still sounds natural. A natural-sounding podcast is a good podcast.
IS IT WORTH IT TO EDIT A PODCAST?
Many podcasts and podcasters don’t bother editing, and I understand why – it sure can be intimidating to learn such a skill. Unfortunately, in my and many other professionals opinions it ruins the potential of those shows. Mistakes and natural body sounds are one thing, but another more important thing is being natural. This may sound weird but a conversation between two people isn’t natural. The spaces between people talking are unnaturally long but because someone isn’t listening in for entertainment, those spaces do not matter.
When you have an active audience you don’t want to give them any reason to tune out. So, the pacing of a conversation in day to day reality are far removed and far different than those found in podcasts. Podcasts are faster than reality. Therefore, editing a podcast is an absolute necessity just to make the conversation sound good before anything else.
Editing a podcast is also vital if you want to add sound effects, clips, music, or any of those other lovely things that give a podcast production quality and regardless of what creative thing you are making – production quality is king.
THAT IS IT, YOU ARE READY
So there we have it, you are ready and good to go as a podcaster. The rest you will learn through first-hand experience. One last hint though, to be a good podcast you need to turn your normal personality up to 11 – just like a good wrestler. If you have any questions beyond this, like RSS syndication, good podcast hosts, iTunes and more… tweet us @TGS_thegeekshow or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org